The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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A glance at a chart of the Party Organisation is enough to
show how completely

                                                   [Page 56]

it differed from the political parties we know. It had its
own source of law in the Fuehrer and it had its own courts
and its own police. The conspirators set up a government
within the Party to exercise outside the law every sanction
that any legitimate State could exercise and many that it
could not. Its chain of command was military, and its
formations were martial in name as well as in function. They
were composed of battalions set up to bear arms under
military discipline, motorised corps, flying corps, and the
infamous "Death Head Corps," which was not misnamed. The
Party had its own secret police, its security units, its
intelligence and espionage division, its raiding forces, and
its youth forces. It established elaborate administrative
mechanisms to identify and liquidate spies and informers, to
manage concentration camps, to operate death vans, and to
finance the whole movement. Through concentric circles of
authority, the Nazi Party, as its leadership later boasted,
eventually organised and dominated every phase of German
life - but not until they had waged a bitter internal
struggle characterised by brutal criminality. In preparation
for this phase of their struggle they created a party police
system. This became the pattern and the instrument of the
police State, which was the first goal in their plan.

The Party formation, including the Leadership Corps of the
Party, the S.D., the S.S. the S.A. and the infamous Secret
State Police, or Gestapo - all these stand accused before
you as criminal organisations; organisations which, as we
will prove from their own documents, were recruited only
from the recklessly devoted Nazis, ready in conviction and
temperament to do the most violent of deeds to advance the
common programme. They terrorised and silenced democratic
opposition and were able at length to combine with political
opportunists, militarists, industrialists, monarchists, and
political reactionaries.

On January 30,1033 Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the
German Republic. An evil combination, represented in the
prisoner's dock by its most eminent survivors, had succeeded
in possessing itself of the machinery of the German
Government, a fa‡ade behind which they thenceforth would
operate to make reality of the war of conquest they so long
had plotted. The conspiracy had passed into its second
phase.

We shall now consider the steps, which embraced the most
hideous of crimes against humanity, to which the
conspirators resorted In perfecting control of the German
State and in preparing Germany for the aggressive war
indispensable to their ends.

The Germans of the 1920's were a frustrated and baffled
people as a result of defeat and the disintegration of their
traditional government. The democratic elements, which were
trying to govern Germany through the new and feeble
machinery of the Weimar Republic, got inadequate support
from the democratic forces of the rest of the world. It is
not to be denied that Germany, when world-wide depression
added to her other problems, was faced with urgent intricate
pressures in her economic and political life, which
necessitated bold measures.

The internal measures by which a nation attempts to solve
its problems are ordinarily of no concern to other nations.
But the Nazi programme from the first was recognised as a
desperate programme for a people still suffering the effects
of an unsuccessful war. The Nazi policy ends recognised as
attainable only by a renewal and more successful outcome of
war. The conspirators' answer to Germany's problems was
nothing less than to plot the regaining of territories lost
in the First World War and the acquisition of other fertile
lands of Central Europe by dispossessing or exterminating
those who inhabited them. They also contemplated destroying
or permanently weakening all other neighbouring peoples so
as to win virtual domination over Europe and probably over
the world. The precise limits of their ambition we need not
define, for it was and is as illegal to wage aggressive war
for small stakes as for large ones.

We find at this period two governments in Germany-the real
and the ostensible.

                                                   [Page 57]

The form of the German Republic was maintained for a time,
and it was the outward and visible government. But the real
authority in the State was outside of and above the law and
rested in the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party.

On February 27, 1933, less than a month after Hitler became
Chancellor, the Reichstag building was set on fire. The
burning of this symbol of free parliamentary government was
so providential for the Nazis that it was believed they
staged the fire themselves. Certainly when we contemplate
their known crimes, we cannot believe they would shrink from
mere arson. It is not necessary, however, to resolve the
controversy as to who set the fire. The significant point is
in the use that was made of the fire and of the state of
public mind it produced. The Nazis immediately accused the
Communist Party of instigating and committing the crime, and
turned every effort to portray this single act of arson as
the beginning of a Communist revolution. Then, taking
advantage of the hysteria, the Nazis met this phantom
revolution with a real one. In the following December, the
German Supreme Court, with commendable courage and
independence, acquitted the accused Communists, but it was
too late to influence the tragic course of events which the
Nazi conspirators had set rushing forward.

Hitler, on the morning after the fire, obtained from the
aged and ailing President von Hindenburg a Presidential
decree suspending the extensive guarantees of individual
liberty contained in the constitution of the Weimar
Republic. The decree provided that "Sections 114, 115, 117,
118, 123, 124, and 153 of the constitution of the German
Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions
on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of
opinion, including freedom of the Press, on the right of
assembly and the right of association, and violations of the
privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic
communications and warrants for house searches, orders for
confiscation as well as restrictions on property, are also
permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."
(1390-PS)

The extent of the restriction on personal liberty under the
decree of 28th February, 1933, may be understood by
reference to the rights under the Weimar Constitution which
were suspended:-

   Article 114. The freedom of the person is inviolable.
   Curtailment or deprivation of personal freedom by a
   public authority is only permissible on a legal basis.
   Persons who have been deprived of their personal freedom
   must be informed at the latest on the following day by
   whose authority and for what reasons the deprivation of
   freedom was ordered. Opportunity shall be afforded them
   without delay of submitting objection to their
   deprivation of freedom.
      
   Article 115. Every German's home is his sanctuary and is
   inviolable. Exceptions may only be made as provided by
   law.
   
   Article 117. The secrecy of letters and all postal,
   telegraphic and telephone communications is inviolable.
   Exceptions are inadmissible except by Reich law.
      
   Article 118. Every German has the right, within the
   limits of the general laws, to express his opinions
   freely in speech, in writing, in print, in picture form
   or in any other way. No condition of work or employment
   may detract from this right and no disadvantage may
   accrue to him from any person making use of this right.
   
   Article 123. All Germans have the right to assemble
   peacefully and unarmed without giving notice and without
   special permission. A Reich law may make previous
   notification obligatory for assemblies in the open air,
   and may prohibit them in the case of immediate danger to
   the public safety.
   
   Article 124. All Germans have the right to form
   associations or societies for purposes not contrary to
   criminal law. This right may not be curtailed
      
                                                   [Page 58]
                                                            

   by preventive measures. The same provisions apply to
   religious associations and societies. Every association
   may become incorporated (Erwerb der Rechtsfaehigkeit)
   according to the provisions of the civil law. The right
   may not be refused to any association on the grounds
   that its aims are political, social-political or
   religious.
      
   Article 153. Property is guaranteed by the Constitution.
   Its content and limits are defined by the laws.
   Expropriation can only take place for the public
   benefitand on a legal basis. Adequate compensation shall
   be granted, unless a Reich law orders otherwise. In the
   case of dispute concerning the matter to the ordinary
   civil courts, unless Reich laws determine otherwise.
   Compensation must be paid if the Reich expropriates
   property belonging to the Lands, Communes, or public
   utility associations. Property carries obligations. Its
   use shall also serve the common good." (2050-PS)

It must be said, in fairness to von Hindenburg, that the
Constitution itself authorised him temporarily to suspend
these fundamental rights "if the public safety and order in
the German Reich are considerably disturbed or endangered."
It must also be acknowledged that President Ebert previously
had invoked this power.

But the National Socialist coup was made possible because
the terms of the Hitler-Hindenburg decree departed from all
previous ones in which the power of suspension had been
invoked. Whenever President Ebert had suspended
constitutional guarantees of individual rights, his decree
had expressly revived the Protective Custody Act adopted by
the Reichstag in igi6 during the previous war. This Act
guaranteed a judicial hearing within twenty-four hours of
arrest, gave a right to have counsel and to inspect all
relevant records, provided for appeal, and authorised
compensation from Treasury funds for erroneous arrests.

The Hitler-Hindenburg decree of 28th February, 1933,
contained no such safeguards. The omission may not have been
noted by von Hindenburg. Certainly he did not appreciate its
effect. It left the Nazi police and party formations,
already existing and functioning under Hitler, completely
unrestrained and irresponsible. Secret arrest and indefinite
detention without charges, without evidence, without
hearing, without counsel, became the method of inflicting
inhuman punishment on any whom the Nazi police suspected or
disliked. No court could issue an injunction, or writ of
habeas corpus, or certiorari. The German people were in the
hands of the police, the police were in the hands of the
Nazi Party, and the Party was in the hands of a ring of evil
men, of whom the defendants here before you are surviving
and representative leaders.

The Nazi conspiracy, as we shall show, always contemplated
not merely overcoming current opposition, but exterminating
elements which could not be reconciled with its philosophy
of the State. It not only sought to establish the Nazi "new
order" but to secure its way, as Hitler predicted, "for a
thousand years." Nazis were never in doubt or disagreement
as to what those dissident elements were. They were
concisely described by one of them, Col. General von
Fritzsche, on 11th December, 1938, in these words:

   "Shortly after the first war I came to the conclusion
   that we should have to be victorious in three battles if
   Germany were to become powerful again:
   (1)The battle against the working class - Hitler has won
   this;
   (2)Against the Catholic Church, perhaps better expressed
   against Ultramontanism
   (3) Against the Jews." (1947-PS)

The warfare against these elements was continuous. The
battle in Germany was but a practice skirmish for the world-
wide drive against them. We have here in point of geography
and of time two groups of crimes against humanity

                                                   [Page 59]

- one within Germany before and during the war, the other in
occupied territory during the war. But the two are not
separated in Nazi planning. They are a continuous unfolding
of the Nazi plan to exterminate peoples and institutions
which might serve as a focus or instrument for overturning
their "new world order" at any time. We consider these
Crimes against Humanity in this address as manifestations of
the one Nazi Plan and discuss them according to General von
Fritsche's classification.

1. THE BATTLE AGAINST THE WORKING CLASS

When Hitler came to power there were in Germany three groups
of trade unions. The General German Trade Union
Confederation (A.D.G.B.) with twenty-eight affiliated
unions, and the General Independent Employees Confederation
(A.F.A.) with thirteen federated unions together numbered
more than 4,500,000 members. The Christian Trade Union had
over 1,250,000 members.

The working people of Germany, like the working people of
other nations, had little to gain personally by war. While
labour is usually brought around to the support of the
nation at war, labour by and large is a pacific, though by
no means a pacifist force in the world. The working people
of Germany had not forgotten in 1933 how heavy the yoke of
the war lord can be. It was the working men who had joined
with the sailors and soldiers in the revolt of 1918 to the
First World War. The Nazis had neither forgiven nor
forgotten. The Nazi programme required that this part of the
German population not only be stripped of power to resist
diversion of its scanty comforts to armament, but also be
wheedled or whipped into new and unheard-of sacrifices as a
part of the Nazi war preparation. Labour must be cowed, and
that meant its organisations and means of cohesion and
defence must be destroyed.

The purpose to regiment labour for the Nazi Party was avowed
by Ley in a speech to workers on 2nd May, I933, as follows:-
  
  "You may say what else do you want, you have the absolute
  power. True we have the power, but we do not have the
  whole people, we do not have you workers 100 per cent,
  and it is you whom we want; we will not let you be until
  you stand with us in complete, genuine acknowledgement."
  (614-PS)

The first Nazi attack was upon the two larger unions. On
21st April, 1933, an order, not even in the name of the
Government, but of the Nazi Party, was issued by the
conspirator Robert Ley as "Chief of Staff of the political
Organisation of the N.S.D.A.P" applicable to the Trade Union
Confederation and the Independent Employees Confederation.
It directed seizure of their properties and arrest of their
principal leaders. The Party order directed Party organs
which we here denounce as criminal associations, the S.A.
and S.S., "to be employed for the occupation of the trade
union properties, and for the taking into custody of
personalities who come into question." And it directed the
taking into "protective custody" of all chairmen and
district secretaries and union and branch directors of the
labour bank. (392-PS)

These orders were carried out on 2nd May, 1933. All funds of
the labour unions, including pension and benefit funds, were
seized. Union leaders were sent to concentration camps. A
few days later, on 10th May, 1933, Hitler appointed Ley
leader of the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront),
which succeeded to the confiscated union funds. The German
Labour Front, a Nazi controlled labour bureau, was set up
under Ley to teach the Nazi philosophy to German workers and
to weed out from industrial employment all who were backward
in their lessons. (940-PS) "Factory Troops" were organised
as an "ideological shock squad within the factory" (1817-
PS). The Party order provided that "outside of the German
Labour Front, no other Organisation (whether of workers or
of employees) is to exist." On 24th June, 1933, the
remaining Christian Trade Unions were seized, pursuant to an
order of the Nazi Party, signed by Ley.

                                                   [Page 60]

On 19th May, 1933, this time by a Government decree, it was
provided that "trustees" of labour, appointed by Hitler,
should regulate the conditions of all labour contracts,
replacing the former process of collective bargaining (405-
PS). On 30th November, 1934, a decree "regulating national
labour" introduced the Fuehrer principle into industrial
relations. It provided that the owners of enterprises should
be the "Fuehrers" and the workers should be the followers.
The enterprise-fuehrers should "make decisions for employees
and labourers in all matters concerning the enterprise"
(1861-PS). It was by such bait that the great German
industrialists were induced to support the Nazi cause, to
their own ultimate ruin.

Not only did the Nazis dominate and regiment German labour,
but they forced the youth into the ranks of the labouring
people they had thus led into chains. Under a compulsory
labour service decree on 26th June, 1935, young men and
women between the ages of 18 and 25 were conscripted for
labour (1654-PS). Thus was the purpose to subjugate German
labour accomplished.

In the words of Ley, the accomplishment consisted "in
eliminating the association character of the trade union and
employees' associations, and in its place we have
substituted the conception 'soldiers of work'." The
productive manpower of the German nation was in Nazi
control. By these steps the defendants won the battle to
liquidate labour unions as potential opposition and were
enabled to impose upon the working class the burdens of
preparing for aggressive warfare.

Robert Ley, the field marshal of this battle against labour,
answered our indictment with suicide. Apparently he knew no
better answer.

2. THE BATTLE AGAINST THE CHURCHES

The Nazi Party was always predominantly anti-Christian by
ideology. But we who believe in freedom of conscience and of
religion base no charge of criminality on anybody's
ideology. It is not because the Nazis themselves were
irreligious or pagan, but because they persecuted others of
the Christian faith that they became guilty of crime, and it
is because the persecution was a step in the preparation for
aggressive warfare that the offence becomes one of
international consequence. To remove every moderating
influence among the German people and to put its population
on a total war footing, the conspirators devised and carried
out a systematic and relentless repression of all Christian
sects and churches.


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